Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Central Command Drops "Long War" Moniker

Launched as a cornerstone notion to replace the GWOT, the "Long War" concept has been with us for few years. Central Command has now, according to the New York Times, dropped it as the aggregate name for what is also known as the GSAVE - Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. Michael R. Gordon also reports that the change comes solely at the level of Central Command, not Pentagon or the White House - but in parallel with e.g. the wish of the UK.
Military officials said that cultural advisers at the command had become concerned that the concept of a long war alienated Middle East audiences by suggesting that the United States would keep a large number of forces in the region indefinitely.

Admiral Fallon was also said to have been unenthusiastic about the phrase. He has stressed the importance of focusing on the difficult situation in Iraq and in achieving results as soon as possible. The notion of a long war, in contrast, seemed to connote an extended conflict in which Iraq was but a chapter.

The change “is a product of our ongoing effort to use language that describes the conflict for our Western audience while understanding the cultural implications of how that language is construed in the Middle East,” Lt. Col. Matthew McLaughlin, a spokesman for the command, said in an e-mail message. “The idea that we are going to be involved in a ‘Long War,’ at the current level of operations, is not likely and unhelpful.”

“We remain committed to our friends and allies in the region and to countering Al Qaeda-inspired extremism where it manifests itself, but one of our goals is to lessen our presence over time. We didn’t feel that the term ‘Long War’ captured this nuance,” he added.
This more anthopological - or, oh, politically adept or holistic or effects based - approach to the semantics of military action is highly welcome. But as the article notes in conclusion: there is not yet any good replacement candidate. At least one half of the old term captured a very true perspective about the struggle: it will not go away. Even so, the other half was definitely problematic as the "war" part in reality looks more like the metaphorical "war on drugs" than a classic state-on-state piece of warfare.

The threat that we are facing is still a reaction to the increasing connectivity of globalization - and the solutions are even more polticial than military (even if they will likely include a lot of military components): OECDification of the rest of the world - shrinking the Gap - will not happen overnight.

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